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Xanax, the brand name of the generic drug alprazolam, is a prescription drug that is used to provide short-term relief from anxiety and help patients manage their symptoms of panic attacks. Alprazolam is sold as tablets, extended-release tablets, liquid and orally disintegrating tablets with doses that range from 0.25 to 2 milligrams.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, which is a class of drugs commonly referred to as prescription sedatives, central nervous system (CNS) depressants or tranquilizers, due to their ability to produce calming effects by slowing down the brain and nervous system activity. Some of the common street names for Xanax include “Benzos,” “Xannies or Zannies,” “Bars,” “Blue Footballs,” and “Handlebars.” Prescription drugs like Xanax are typically only prescribed for short periods of time, as they can be habit-forming, quickly produce tolerance and increase the risk of addiction.

In the brain

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), CNS depressants such as Xanax primarily work by increasing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that suppresses nerve activity in the brain and plays an important role in cognition, behavior and the body’s response to stress. For this reason, CNS depressants are commonly prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety and sleep disorders.

What conditions does Xanax treat?

Xanax is approved by the FDA for the treatment of anxiety disorders in adults over the age of 18. Following are some of the anxiety disorders for which Xanax may be prescribed.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Anxiety related to a depressive disorder
  • Agoraphobia (fear of public places or crowds that may contribute to panic, entrapment or embarrassment)
  • Repeated anxiety episodes

Xanax may also be prescribed for medical conditions such as essential tremor, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ringing in the ears, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Xanax vs. Valium

Xanax and Valium (diazepam) are both benzodiazepines that have similar effects, however, there are important distinctions between the two prescription drugs. For example, Xanax is 10 to 20 times more potent than Valium. In addition, Xanax is metabolized and takes effect more quickly than Valium.

Unlike Valium, Xanax is approved for treating panic disorder and may be used to treat depression that accompanies anxiety, but its safety has not been established for children.

Side effects of Xanax

When taken as prescribed, Xanax has potent and therapeutic short-term effects including reducing restlessness, physical tension and feelings of unease. However, just like any other prescription medication, Xanax has some side effects. Some of them are:

  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Feeling relaxed or calm
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory impairment
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Respiratory depression
  • Decreased blood pressure and heart rate

People who abuse Xanax are more likely to experience negative effects of the drug. Some of the more serious effects of Xanax include impaired mental function, memory loss and respiratory depression, which can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. People who take Xanax may also experience rebound symptoms when they stop taking the drug. For example, if someone takes Xanax for anxiety, the person may actually experience worsened anxiety symptoms when he or she stops taking the medication.

Xanax abuse

Typically abused because of its calming and relaxing effects, the drug is often used in larger quantities and in combination with other drugs or alcohol. People who abuse Xanax may feel drowsy, lightheaded, and have difficulty with balance and/or motor coordination. Xanax can also impair memory and amplify other effects, including withdrawal symptoms, overdose and death, especially when the drug is mixed with alcohol and other drugs.

People who abuse Xanax for long periods of time are more likely to experience its negative effects. Following are some of the more serious adverse effects of Xanax abuse:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Psychotic experiences
  • Loss of coordination
  • Physical dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Addiction
  • Death

Xanax abuse: Withdrawal symptoms

Tolerance develops quickly in those who take higher doses of Xanax than prescribed, take it without a prescription, or take the drug for long time periods, which can have harmful effects and can increase the risk of physical dependence and addiction. Xanax addiction can contribute to withdrawal symptoms when the person tries to stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are usually the worst during the first couple days of detoxification and gradually become less prominent. Following are some common withdrawal symptoms of Xanax abuse.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia and other sleeping problems
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Tremors/shaking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure

Xanax addiction

People can become physically and psychologically addicted to Xanax in a short time period. Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam are dangerous to take when a person has a history of alcohol or drug dependence as they can be habit-forming and easily lead to addiction. People who develop an addiction to Xanax may compulsively use the drug, neglect their relationships with family and friends, have difficulty keeping a job, and experience other negative consequences.

Xanax addiction treatment

An extremely addictive drug, Xanax abuse and addiction must always be sought at certified addiction treatment centers. A comprehensive treatment for Xanax addiction consists of medically-supervised Xanax detox treatment followed by behavioral therapies and relapse prevention skills.

As a sudden cessation of Xanax may result in painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, it is important to get the Xanax detoxification treatment at certified Xanax detox centers. Post a successful detox program, individuals undergo behavioral therapies to help them learn necessary life-skills as well as recognize and deal effectively with trigger situations.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

As a dual licensed network of treatment centers, Sovereign Health provides top-notch substance abuse and addiction treatment at its state-of-the-art treatment facilities located throughout the U.S.

A women-only rehab center, Sovereign Health of Arizona provides its female patients individualized, evidence-based treatment for mental health, addiction and other co-occurring disorders. Xanax addiction treatment at Sovereign Health of Arizona is comprehensive and tailored to meet each woman’s needs. In addition to traditional addiction treatment modalities, Sovereign Health also offers each of its women patients’ several other treatment options including eye-movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), neurofeedback and experiential therapy including equine and expressive arts therapy to help them overcome their substance abuse and addiction.

In addition to our treatment for Xanax addiction, the clinical staff of our Xanax rehab centers is specialized in the treatment of trauma and co-occurring disorders. For more information on our substance abuse treatment programs or to locate the finest Xanax detox centers, near you, please call at our 24/7 helpline number and speak to our admission specialists. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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